(GushShalom) One UN, two fences // The rules of disengagement

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 27/07/2004 - 22:51

Zvi Bar'el confronts the general Israeli public opinion.

The Chomsky's article is a pragmatic reminder to activists.

[] One UN, two fences By Zvi Bar'el Ha'aretz
[] The rules of disengagement - Noam Chomsky

Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc)
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322,
Tel-Aviv 61033


[] One UN, two fences By Zvi Bar'el Ha'aretz

Sun., July 25, 2004 Hebrew/òáøé

"God be praised that the fate of Israel and of the Jewish nation is not decided in this world," Israel's United Nations ambassador Dan Gillerman declared after the General Assembly voted to accept the recommendation of the International Court of Justice at The Hague concerning the separation fence.

Gillerman got a bit carried away, because the fate of Israel, and more especially recognition of it as a state, were in fact decided not only in this world but in this very hall in the UN building. It's true that since then the atmosphere and the voting patterns that have foisted themselves on the world body have been such that they opposed Israel almost systematically. It's true that the occupation of the territories was extensively criticized and came in for a flood of condemnatory resolutions, to the point where it seemed that the UN was working in the service of the opposition in Israel. Still, it's not out of place to remember that, precisely on a question relating to fences, it was Israel that relied heavily on UN resolutions.

In Lebanon, for example. The demarcation of the border between Israel and Lebanon and the building of the problematic fence along the length of the border could not have passed peacefully and won renewed recognition without UN auspices and the agreement of the sides to accept the UN's decision. Even Syria agreed to declare that Israel had fulfilled its commitment according to Security Council Resolution 425, from 1978, and had pulled out completely from Lebanon. The Shaba Farms, again according to the UN, "belong" to a different Security Council resolution, namely 242. Their fate will be decided within the framework of negotiations with Syria. It is that UN decision that gives Israel legitimacy to go on holding the farms.

But wait a minute - isn't this the same Resolution 242 based on which the General Assembly last week, and before it the court in The Hague, decided that Israel must destroy the separation fence in the West Bank? It's the same occupation regarding which Israel sometimes adopts the decisions of the international community and sometimes rejects them, based on its own convenience. Has the UN changed and retracted its previous resolutions? No, it's the nature of the fence that has changed.

In Lebanon, Israel declared that it was withdrawing to the recognized international boundary betwee n the two countries. "Recognized" means recognized by the United Nations. Lebanon made a sour face, Hezbollah said no, Syria ranted and raved for a ti me, but in the end the people with the blue helmets, carrying maps that were in part controversial, decided what was the recognized border. Isr ael was satisfied and also executed the pullback to the last centimeter. There was nothing in the decision by the prime minister at the time, Ehud B arak, to the effect that it would be necessary to build the fence a few kilometers inside Lebanon in order to prevent future attacks by Hezbollah, an d no one complained about the Arab character of the UN that decided the border without taking into consideration terrorist attacks by Hezbollah.

Between Israel and the West Bank there is ostensibly no agreed and recognized international border, not even according to Resolution 242, which calls for negotiations to be conducted on secure and agreed borders. However, in contrast to Lebanon, whe re an agreed border is also supposed to be a secure border - as indeed it is, most of the time - Israel maintains the opposite in the West Bank: A secure border will be an agreed border. This is the heart of the great bluff that rests on two bluffs of equal magnitude. The first holds that ther e can be an agreed border along a fence on one side of which are dozens of settlements and about a quarter of a million settlers, and the second i s that the fence is temporary and will be rectified in conjunction with an agreement.

The result is a logical conundrum: If an agreement will rectify the route of the fence, the implica tion is that the Palestinians will, in fact, agree to leaving the settlements across the fence or that Israel will agree to dismantling them. If neith er development occurs, it's doubtful the border will be able to be considered secure, and if it's not secure it can't be agreed, according to the I sraeli logic. The problem at the moment is not what the international court at The Hague said or didn't say, or whether the UN is pro-Arab or only anti-Israeli, or whether the separation fence is the pillar of Israel's security. The main point is the bluffs this government will use to continue to sell the fence at home.

[] The rules of disengagement - Noam Chomsky

22 July 2004 Mail & Guardian

( In this article Noam Chomsky clarifies his position about Sharon's "disengagement plan", as well as the Geneva Initiative, binationalism and what should be the aim of activists in the short term. The article which quotes at some point Gush Shalo m, elaborates on questions which came up already in the earlier interview by Stephen R. Shalom and Justin Podur - to be found at: http://www.chomsk y.info/interviews/20040330.htm )

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a prime mover of Middle East chaos and suffering. But an impasse-breaker isn't beyond reach.

In the short term, the only feasible and minimally decent solution to the conflict is along the lin es of the long-standing international consensus: a two-state settlement on the border (Green Line), with minor and mutual adjustments.

By now, United States-backed Israeli settlement and infrastructure projects change the import of "minor." Nevertheless, several two-state programmes are on the table, the most prominent being the Geneva Accord, presented in December by a group of p rominent Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, working outside official channels.

The Geneva Accord provides a detailed programme for a one-to-one land swap and other aspects of a s ettlement, and is about as good as is likely to be achieved - and could be achieved if the US government would back it. The realpolitik is that Israel must accept what the great power dictates.

The Bush-Sharon "disengagement plan" is in fact an expansion-integration plan. Even as Israeli Prim e Minister Ariel Sharon calls for some form of withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, "Israel will invest tens of millions of dollars in West Bank settl ements", James Bennet quotes Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in The New York Times. Other reports indicate that the development will take place on the Palestinian side of the “separation wall".

Such settlements run counter to the Bush-endorsed "roadmap", which calls for a halt to "all settlem ent activity".

"As important a milestone as it is, an end to Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip requires a corr esponding change in policies in the West Bank for its advantages to be realised," writes Geoffrey Aronson, of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, i n Washington.

The foundation has just published a map of Israeli plans for the West Bank, showing a patchwork of discontinuous, walled-off Palestinian enclaves that reproduces the worst features of South Africa's apartheid bantustans, as Meron Benvenisti has pointed out in Haaretz.

The question that is now raised is whether the Israeli and Palestinian communities are so intertwin ed in the occupied territories that no division is possible.

Last November, however, former leaders of Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, generally agreed that Israel could and should completely pull out from the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, 85% to 90% of the settlers would leave "with a simple econom ic plan" while there are perhaps 10% “with whom we will have to clash" to remove them — not a very serious problem, in the Shin Bet leaders' view.

The Geneva Accord is based on similar assumptions, which appear realistic.

It is, incidentally, quite true that none of these proposals deals with the overwhelming imbalance in military and economic power between Israel and an eventual Palestinian state, or with other quite crucial issues.

In the longer term, other arrangements might emerge, as more healthy interactions develop between t he two countries. One possibility with earlier roots is a binational federation.

>From 1967 to 1973 such a binational state was quite feasible in Israel-Palestine. During those year s, a full peace treaty between Israel and the Arab states was also feasible, and indeed had been offered in 1971 by Egypt, then Jordan. By 1973 the op portunity was lost.

What changed is the 1973 war and the shift in opinion among Palestinians, in the Arab world and in the international arena in favour of Palestinian national rights, in a form that incorporated United Nations Resolution 242 but added provisions for a Palestinian state in the occupied territories, which Israel would evacuate. But the US has unilaterally blocked that resolution for the last 30 ye ars.

The result has been wars and destruction, harsh military occupation, takeover of land and resources , resistance and finally an increasing cycle of violence, mutual hatred and distrust. Those outcomes cannot be wished away.

Progress requires compromises on all sides. What's a fair compromise? The closest we can come to a general formula is that compromises should be accepted if they are the best possible and can lead the way to something better.

Sharon's "two-state" settlement, leaving Palestinians caged in the Gaza Strip and in cantons in abo ut half of the West Bank, radically fails the criterion. The Geneva Accord approximates the criterion, and therefore should be accepted, at least as a basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiation, in my opinion.

One of the thorniest issues is the Palestinian right of return. Palestinian refugees should certain ly not be willing to renounce it, but in this world — not some imaginary world we can discuss in seminars — that right will not be exercised, in more than a limited way, within Israel.

In any case, it is improper to dangle hopes that will not be realised before the eyes of people suf fering in misery and oppression. Rather, constructive efforts should be pursued to mitigate their suffering and deal with their problems in the real world.

A two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus is already acceptable to a very b road range of Israeli opinion. That even includes extreme hawks, who are so concerned by the "demographic problem" — the problem of too many non-Jews in a "Jewish state" — that they are even advancing the (outrageous) proposal to transfer areas of dense Arab settlement within Israel t o a new Palestinian state.

A majority of the US population also supports the two-state settlement. Therefore, it is not at all inconceivable that organising/activist efforts in the US could bring the US government into line with the international consensus, in which case, Isr ael would very likely go along as well.

Even without any US pressure, a great many Israelis favour something of this sort — depending on ex actly how questions are asked in polls. A change in Washington's position would make an enormous difference.

The former leaders of Shin Bet, as well as the Israeli peace movement (Gush Shalom and others), bel ieve that the Israeli public would accept such an outcome.

But speculation about that is not our real concern. Rather, it is to bring US government policy int o line with the rest of the world, and apparently with the majority of the US public.

- © Noam Chomsky 2004 Mail & Guardian online http://archive.mg.co.za

# Truth against Truth - opposite views on the history of the conflict in 101 steps

Hebrew / òáøéú http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Heb.pdf

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